Words by Matt de Prez @mattdeprez
Photography by Rowan Cullen @rowancullen
Please help us grow our site by sharing with your friends. ‘Like’ our Facebook page, follow us on twitter and instagram.
When we talk about Airbags in the traditional sense we mean the soft comforting cushion that protects us in a crash – in reality it is more like a boxing glove that rips through the dashboard and gives you one last sucker punch in an already dispiriting situation.
In the world of modified cars however, things are slightly different. In a bid to achieve the lowest possible suspension ride height tuners are ditching conventional coil springs in favor of airbags.
Air suspension isn’t exclusively used in the modified scene though. A number of luxury cars such as the Mercedes S-Class, Range Rover and Audi A8 have used such systems since the 1990s and its roots began in the haulage industry.
Riding on air provides a silky smooth ride with almost no body roll – a big, heavy saloon can have the handling characteristics of a sports car. These benefits are transferred to aftermarket systems which use intelligent processors to ensure your car will corner with the precision of stiff coil overs but soak up the bumps with much more grace.
Step forward a few years and a car as unassuming as an Audi A4 can now benefit from this tech. Specialists such as EMP performance can install the system on a wide range of vehicles. Essentially the purpose, above all else, is to give the car ‘stance’. This is when the chassis sits millimeters from the ground and the wheels ascend into the arches with maximum negative camber.
Obviously a car is not driveable like this, hence why air is used. In seconds the boot mounted compressor can fill the system with air and the car returns to a standard ride height. The driver can even raise the vehicle using an on board controller to tackle kerbs and speed bumps.
The result is an Audi A4 that looses no practicality as a daily driver, has improved ride and handling and yet can draw attention from crowds that would usually only acknowledge it as the Monday morning outside lane hog.
To make this sales-rep express stand out even further, the windows have been tinted and mesh grilles added from the performance RS4 give a more aggressive front end. Under the bonnet EMP have given the 2.0 TDI engine a new lease of life by ditching the restrictive and troublesome particulate filter and replacing it with a turbo-back custom exhaust.
Thanks to Narco Tuning, a specialist in ECU remapping, power is up from 143BHP to an impressive 194BHP. To finish the look and improve grip, 19″ Bola alloy wheels have been fitted along with Nangkang performance tyres.